26 April – Gender Based Violence: Ongoing challenges, COVID 19 and Promising Projects in Africa and the MENA region

Across MENA and the African continent, women and girls are experiencing an unprecedented increase in gender-based violence. “Gender-based violence is already a pervasive human rights concern in MENA and the spike in domestic violence during COVID-19 lockdowns has had catastrophic consequences,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“In ensuring a just recovery, systemic inequalities must be addressed. This requires full and equal participation and inclusion of women. Women must be at the heart of a Covid-19 response and a vaccine rollout. Feminists have not only claimed spaces but also created brave and inclusive spaces to discuss challenges and responses to the pandemic and provide care and security to more marginalized groups, including LGBTQI+ and gender non-conforming people.’ Amina Hersi, Head of Gender Rights and Justice for Oxfam International, blog in African Feminism.

Our panel of leading gender-based violence experts, human rights activists, and feminist leaders will discuss core ongoing challenges, how they are responding to the coronavirus pandemic, promising and scalable projects, and next steps. Learn how their work — creating safe spaces for women and girls, developing survivor centered approaches to justice, fostering political participation of women, and involving men in the fight for gender equity is making an impact.

Participants will also have the opportunity to explore strategies and tactics for change and learn what they can do in their own communities to act against physical, structural and cultural violence against women and girls—half our population.


The event will take place on April 26th at 17:00 East Africa Time and the times below. Check here to confirm the start time in your time zone.

9:00 CDT Chicago
17:00 EAT Nairobi
16:00 CET Paris


Sunshine Fionah Komusana
Sunshine Fionah Komusana is an Afrikan Feminist, lawyer, award winning blogger and activist. She is the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Associate at Akina Mama wa Afrika-a Pan-African Feminist Leadership Development Organization based in Kampala Uganda She is a 2016, World Bank Blogs for Development contest winner and a 2018 Tuwezeshe Akina Dada fellow and a co-founder of social action project named “Hub4Her”, aimed at creating safe spaces for girls at Uganda Christian University to have conversations on sexual harassment. Through activities like Zumba, self-defense classes and the screening of BBC Africa Eye’s Documentary, “#SexForGrades” her initiative has provided over 50students with tools to advocate for sexual harassment policies, be emboldened to speak up and normalize the conversation on violence and accountability. She has experience providing legal aid services, connecting survivors of violence to legal support, therapy services and shelters, doing advocacy work, writing, and research. She believes that violence against women and girls thrives because the current justice system is colonial, patriarchal, was designed to perpetuate further violence and therefore requires an overhaul through finding alternative, survivor centered approaches to justice. She holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Uganda Christian University (UCU)-Mukono and a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre-Kampala


Tala Harb
Tala Harb is a human rights and gender professional, currently working at Amnesty International, Middle East office. She covers Saudi Arabia and Yemen in documenting violations and campaigning to promote and protect human rights. Prior to that she worked on women’s rights at the Arab Women Institute in the Lebanese American University (LAU) and with United Nations regional office in Beirut where she covered Jordan and Sudan. Tala is a Lebanese activist who holds a master in conflict resolution in divided society from King’s college as well as a BA in International Affairs/political science from LAU.

Fikiri Nzoyisenga
Fikiri Nzoyisenga, Rotary Peace Fellow 2021, Makarere University, Uganda, is a dedicated community organizer, peacebuilder, and human rights activist from Burundi with more than ten years working directly on the empowerment of some of the most underprivileged communities in his country. Living in a country long characterized by ethnic tensions, political unrests, and recurrent threats to peace, Fikiri has spearheaded – through organizations like Master Peace Foundation, Spark Micro grants and Imagine Burundi Foundation – highly impactful community-driven development programs that have promoted social peace, cohesion and good cohabitation, and improved the overall well-being of communities. Fikiri also founded Youth Coalition Against Gender-based Violence (known as SEMERERA), an organization that focuses its programs on the socio-economic integration of women and girls, and the involvement of men in the fight for gender equality. His other fellowships include: 2020 Reagan-Fascel Fellowship with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in the USA, 2018 Obama Leaders Africa Program, South Africa, and 2016 Chevening Fellowship that allowed him to complete a Masters’ Degree in International Human Rights Law in the United Kingdom, and 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, USA. His research focuses of how to foster grassroots political participation for women in Burundi.

Ghida Anani
Ghida Anani (Lebanon) is the Founder & Director of ABAAD –Resource Centre for Gender Equality, a leading CSO in the region advocating for gender equality, women’s rights and the political participation of women. Ghida is putting in place the infrastructure for a sustainable system of protection against gender-based violence. She engages stakeholders that others avoid or fight: men, parliamentarians and ministries, and religious leaders. She has led a number of public opinion campaigns, notably the #Undress522 which resulted in a historical parliamentary vote, repealing Article 522 –the infamous ‘’rape-marriage’’ law -from the Lebanese Penal Code. In 2019, the campaign received the first prize “UN SDG Action Award” for the most impactful campaign globally. As an expert in GBV and Child Protection, Ghida has published a number of studies, articles, training kits and community educational materials on GBV & Child Sexual Abuse in Lebanon and the MENA region. She is part of a global roster of senior Gender and GBV Experts contributing to the GBV Area of Responsibility (AoR) Helpdesk. Ghida has also dedicated some of her time teaching at the Faculty of Public Health at the Lebanese University. In 2018, Ghida was listed by the World Bank as one of 10 Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs Making a Difference across MENA and in 2019 she was selected by the UN Solutions Summit as one of the 10 extraordinary solution makers across the globe advancing the SDGs. In 2020, Ghida was elected an Ashoka Fellow and announced ‘’Heroine of Peace’’ by Peace One Day.